Nicola Teague, head of AV at The7stars, shares some pointers for those buying TV audiences in 2022.
It’s no secret that how people consume video is changing rapidly, with a wealth of new content now being viewed through TV screens. This provides challenges and opportunities for agencies and clients alike. To succeed in this evolving landscape, agencies must adapt quickly to capitalize on new players and platforms with cohesive strategies that follow the audience and join up this disparate landscape.
There's a raft of opportunities coming to the audio visual (AV) market in 2022.
Follow the audience
Non-linear content being viewed through a TV set is a trend that we have seen for years now, with over 70% of BVOD views being via the big screen. This has now transcended into the world of ‘online video’ where YouTube, for example, has seen time spent viewing the app via TV screens more than double year-on-year.
In fact, over 25 million people now watch YouTube on their TV, and at the start of 2021 over 19m households were using Connected TV (CTV). While CTV is clearly still in its infancy, it’s already providing planners and buyers with great opportunities to access broadcast-quality content through a digital and programmatic buy.
In 2021 Amazon joined the UK video landscape, with its IMDb TV streaming service offering free content with pre-roll and mid-roll ads. This gives AV buyers access to a wealth of different targeting, including a person’s shopping habits or even the contents of their basket.
With 66% of UK households having access to at least one subscription service, Amazon’s foray acknowledges the so-called ‘subscription fatigue,’ and their ad-funded approach signifies the first large-scale video provider to offer this model. It will likely encourage other SVOD providers to eventually trial an ad-funded model, with Netflix long rumored to be exploring this route.
Structure for success
2021 has been a year of flux and change for the AV market. These developments have seen the lines between TV and digital continue to blur. Traditional agency models have become obsolete and siloed, and teams simply can’t exploit the wealth of opportunities that video now has to offer.
At The7stars we restructured our planning and buying teams over a year ago to create an Activation Team, enabling different specialists to work closely together to deliver the best plans for clients enabling a variety of different buying and optimization techniques, depending on the clients’ KPIs. It was vital to upskill teams with the many techniques needed to plan and buy video campaigns in 2022.
It’s very clear that the AV landscape is fragmenting, and it is certainly no longer just about linear, BVOD and a handful of online video suppliers. YouTube, CTV and IMDb TV all provide great opportunities to expand reach and explore new levels of targeting and reporting.
The increasing number of AV opportunities allows a broader range of clients with varied budgets to access high-quality content at a much lower entry cost. For agencies, these buys come with a multitude of different planning and buying techniques, which is why a collaborative approach within agency specialist teams is vital. The collaboration shouldn’t stop there – CTV suppliers will need to work together to create a simplified CTV proposition, with more consistency around terminology, reporting and – to an extent – targeting.
It’s worth calling out that AV planners are used to buying high-quality ‘clean inventory,’ which means CTV suppliers should work hard to limit fraud. And clients should demand full transparency from their agencies on all CTV buys.
The year ahead
If we thought 2021 brought massive change across the TV/video market, then 2022 shows no sign of slowing, with some exciting developments in reporting, tech and content.
The much-anticipated C-Flight is set to launch in early 2022, meaning for the first time we’ll be able to report combined reach and frequency within the broadcast landscape. And we’ll also have insights from Barb’s new planning tool, which will measure reach and total time spent viewing SVOD (i.e. Netflix, Amazon, Disney+) and video-sharing platforms such as TikTok.
Also on the horizon is Sky’s Adsmart product, which will be available across multiple broadcasters in the coming months, offering more programmatic linear inventory TV to advertisers. Agencies will be keen to see continued collaboration between the broadcasters on C-Flight, Adsmart and BVOD, uniting as one to showcase the quality, scale and innovation that broadcast can deliver for clients.
Throughout 2022, we will also witness the impact of Sky Glass. The new streaming TV service keeps customers within the Sky interface, but also pleases the likes of ITV and Channel 4, which have recently struck deals with Sky to expand their previously limited BVOD inventory to include their full suite of content.
Sky Glass is likely to revamp how viewers watch and record their favorite shows across multiple content suppliers. Streaming directly from Sky via the Cloud, Sky Glass will align content spanning all suppliers – including the likes of Channel 4, Sky and ITV – into one easy-to-access personalized playlist, not to mention housing apps for Netflix and Amazon Prime. It offers a more holistic viewing experience – a clever tactic from Sky.
ITV recently launched their Adlabs initiative, which indicates the broadcasters’ big ambitions in the world of digital and innovations. Adlabs provides a host of new and exciting targeting and data opportunities, as well as partnerships and insights. This initiative has the potential to fuse CTV targeting and data capabilities with high-quality broadcast content, and is certainly one to watch.
And of course we have to talk about content, which will continue to be king. The World Cup in Q4 will shake things up in the world of linear. And while production budgets were the first to be cut as a result of huge drops in linear revenue throughout 2020, we saw unprecedented increases in revenue in Q4 2021, with the broadcasters having their best year ever for revenue. This surely means production budgets for 2022 are looking healthy and great content is on the horizon.
Accelerated change across the AV landscape looks set to continue well into 2022 and beyond. Viewing patterns are likely to evolve again with new players, products and AVOD options hitting the market. This means agencies will have to act fast to follow the audiences, but ensure they’re still being reached in a transparent way for their clients.
There is no status quo – teams need to be blended and upskilled to capitalize on this highly fragmented and transient landscape and the burgeoning opportunities it provides for advertisers.
Collaboration is key, both across the market and within agencies, to provide an exciting joined-up and cohesive offering for consumers and advertisers alike.